What Is A TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ is the easy terminology for your temporomandibular joint.  This joint acts like a hinge connecting your skull and jawbone.  A TMJ disorder occurs when you experience pain or difficulty in this joint and its surrounding muscles.  The operation of the joint combines a hinging and sliding motion.  The parts of the TMJ which interact are covered by cartilage.  A small disk separates these parts and it provides the smooth movement of the joint by functioning as a shock absorber.

What Are The Symptoms Of TMJ Disorder?

TMJ Disorder is one of those ailments which can have multiple symptoms.  Some of these symptoms are:

  • Tenderness/pain in the jaw and surrounding muscle
  • Aches/pains in the facial muscles
  • A locked TMJ which hinders opening and closing the mouth
  • A difficulty in chewing food
  • Aches/pains in your ear or around it
  • A clicking sound when you are talking or chewing
  • Pain/tenderness in the neck or shoulder area
  • Swelling on one side of the face or the other

What Are The Causes Of TMJ Disorders?

The symptoms of TMJ disorders are often multiple and vague.  Its causes can also be difficult to determine.  Some possible causes include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis of the TMJ
  • An impact injury to the TMJ
  • Bruxism, or grinding/clenching the teeth
  • Tension in the facial muscles due to constant stress
  • A misaligned disk in the TMJ
  • What Are The Treatment Options For TMJ?

TMJ symptoms will often go way on their own as you rest the joint.  You may also find relief through the use of anti-inflammatory pain medications, eating softer foods, and the application of a warm compress to the painful area.  If the symptoms do not leave on their own, your dentist may prescribe some additional treatments.  He may suggest some muscle stretching or relaxation exercises to help the TMJ relax.  In some cases, a splint, or bite plate similar to a mouth sports guard can provide relief.  Your dentist may also offer an option like a cortisone shot to relieve the inflammation.  In a rare number of cases, a patient may need to undergo jaw joint replacement surgery.